My wife sometimes asked me if I would’ve married her had she been a fling or a one-night stand. My answer was “of course not!”
Marriage is reserved for people worth marrying. Anything less is a broken family in the making.
I asked him to define what he meant by “people worth marrying” and he said, “People who are capable of sustaining relationships + have some sense of responsibility. I know the ‘wife/husband material’ is a lousy stereotype, but somehow such people do exist.”
I’ve asked the same question to a lot of male friends in the past (mostly, over bottles of beer in college — I so enjoyed drunken debates with boys) and the most common answer was “a decent girl” by which they meant NOT fast girls or girls with a “reputation”. One of them had a girlfriend of six years and it was a cut-and-dried path for them — wedding bells after law school (for him) and med school (for her). She was a pretty girl, intelligent, soft-spoken and, you know, Nice with a capital N. When she went abroad to grad school, he met the love of his life. But he wouldn’t marry the girl (I never got a chance to meet her) because she was no longer a virgin when they met. He married the doctor a few years after graduation. It led me to conclude that, contrary to popular belief, quite a lot of U.P. guys were not always progressive thinkers. They might raise their fists to protest against social issues but when it came to choosing a wife, they were feudal as feudal could be.
Not all of my male friends thought alike though. There was one who, when asked if the girl’s virginity mattered to him, said, “It depends.” If she loved the previous boyfriend, he saw nothing wrong with her not being a virgin. But if she had been casually hopping from one bed to another, then she wouldn’t be acceptable.
That was early to mid 1980s when things reeked badly of double standards. I don’t know how today’s young men feel about those things. But I’m still intrigued about the concept of a “decent girl.”
Who is a “decent girl” worth marrying? Is the bar girl and the starlet who take their clothes off for a living but who support their education and their families with their earnings decent girls worth marrying? What about the daughter of a convicted criminal? What about a girl whose siblings are the result of her mother’s liaisons with four different men? What about an illegitimate daughter whose parents are engaged in an openly adulterous relationship? What determines decency — her family background, her education, her profession, the circumstances of her birth…?? What?
It is easy to say that it is character that determines what a person is. But the truth is, we are all bound by the biases that we have been raised with. What man can say, in all honesty, that circumstances surrounding a girl — her family, her background, her past — do not influence his perception of her as to whether she falls under the “decent” classification or not?
And it’s a question that affects parents too, especially mothers with sons. Can a mother really stand aside and keep silent and not comment about her son’s choice for a girlfriend or a wife especially when she sees her differently than he does? I tell you — I have had my share of mother problems with boys I have known. A mother did not like me for her son because my parents were separated. Like that was my fault. Another mother did not like me because I am from U.P. and that automatically made me a commie. As if. Crazy, really, but people’s minds work in crazy ways, especially parents when they feel their children are about to commit the gravest mistake of their lives.
It would be equally interesting to get into the concept of a “decent boy” worth marrying. The same questions apply. Well, except for the virginity part, I suppose, because like it or not, we live in a society that says it’s okay for a boy to be experienced in “those things” before marriage. In fact, they are expected to be experienced. If they weren’t, there would be doubt as to whether they are real men or not.
It gets crazier, eh? Sometimes, it’s smarter to just feel amused about these things than try to make any sense out of it.